Afternoon and evening dresses for women, Delineator, January 1926, page 28.
Evening dresses for teens (ages 15 to 20) and small women. Butterick 6535 and 6482, Delineator, January 1926, p. 27.
Details of evening dresses for young women. The proportions of the blue dress — and its flaring circular skirt — do not scream “Twenties.”
The lower edge of the “two piece circular skirt” stands out because it is scalloped and bound with bias. This dress has an underarm closing in the side seam, which would have used a row of snaps with a hook and bar at the top and at other points of stress.
Pattern magazines like Delineator came out ahead of the month on the cover, so you probably could have made these dresses in time for New Year’s Eve parties in 1926. Dresses for adult women were shown longer than those for teens. If you want to make a Twenties’ dress shorter, you should shorten the pattern at the waist, not the hem. Click here for a 1926 article about dress alterations.
Butterick 6498, 6497, and 6527, Delineator, January 1926.
Butterick 6498, January 1928. The model is holding a huge feather fan that matches the trim on her dress. The dress is as simple as they get! Notice the easing in the side seam instead of a bust dart. The side panel is sheer Georgette.
Details of Butterick 6497 and 6527, January 1928.
A slip with optional sleeves and a higher neckline would convert this to an afternoon dress as seen in the back view. It was illustrated in a “Lanvin green” border print.
This dress would be super-easy to copy using modern patterns. (Yes, bust darts were used in the 1920s! But they didn’t come so far toward the bust point. [Busts weren’t pointed.] Click here.) The circle skirt is attached to an under slip, so the skirt does not start at the waist, but at the hip.
The very long top on the”pervenche blue” metallic brocade dress was also seen on this pattern with “troubadour sleeves,” 1926.
Another very long-torsoed pattern from 1926. They were not as popular as the usual mid-hip waistline.
Butterick 6549, January 1926. (A good style for those who don’t appreciate a hip band.) This is an afternoon dress, with embroidered sleeves. Perhaps they have sheer appliques on them. The shirred godets go all around the dress — nice for tea dances. Bois de rose (rosewood) was a chic tan/rose pink color, not as orange as it looks here.
If made sleeveless, it would be an evening dress.
Butterick dresses 6517 and 6531; Delineator, January 1926.
“Princess dress” in the Twenties doesn’t mean it’s close-fitting, as in some other periods. The gold lining on an “Amazon green” dress below adds interest to the attached circular flare.
Details of Butterick 6517 and 6531. The vertical “circular frills” on 6517 were often used in the 1920s.
If you are wondering why the vertical frills are called “circular,” I’ll explain.
This is one of those things that made pattern making — draping and drafting patterns — such an interesting class. I urge you to experiment with it, because, although you can learn this principle, every tiny change you make to the pattern will change the way the fabric behaves, drastically!
The basic idea is this: if you want to create a cascade of ripples in a jabot or a flounce or a frill or whatever you want to call it, you need to cut the fabric with a curve on the side you will attach to the garment. It has to be cut to the right length, but not in a straight line. When you force that curve into a straight line, as has been done on Butterick 6517, ripples will form!
The “circular frills” at left and the overskirt at right are both based on circles.
Twenties’ dresses that depend on the “cut a curve and straighten it out” principle. Delineator, July 1925.
The long drape on the left is probably just a long rectangle. If cut on a curve, I think it would ripple more. The skirt on the right is based on a section of a circle. The ruffled V shaped neckline trim in the middle shows the soft ripples you get when you attach a curved frill in a straight line.
The more curved the line is, the more ripples you get when you straighten it out.
The curves in these diagrams are greatly exaggerated, just to give the general idea!
A flounce based on a fairly tight curve. When the blue half circle was straightened out, the flounce would have many ripples.
The gentler the inside curve, the fewer ripples the flounce will have.
That is the basic pattern for a 1920s dipping hem. (Of course, the waist is not really a circle…. This is just the starting point for a muslin.)
Left, a typical dipping hem for evening, September 1928; Butterick pattern.